Saturday, 21 February 2015


It was a week of festivities in Bhutan with at least two major reasons for the nation to celebrate. First it was the Lunar New Year of the wood sheep called Losar. Not just in Bhutan, the day is celebrated by Buddhist the world over.

In Bhutan, this is the time of feastings and festivities too. People prepare days before every Losar for feasting and celebration. And these include buying meat in advance and loads of meat too, to see off a month long meat ban during the auspicious first lunar month. Families also converge together and traditional games of archery, khuru and degor are also prearranged between different groups.

Despite the festive occasion, I can certainly say that the enthusiasm for the festivials like Losar have gone down compared to the past decades in urban centres. But, out in the villages, people still celebrate with enthusiasm. For the third day, I can hear the celebratory shouts of archery, khuru or degor matches going on somewhere within the hearing distance.

In parts of the villages people in groups are said to be rotating each day between homes sharing the best of local brew warmed in butter and eggs.

The third day of the sheep year coincided with another important event in the country, the birth anniversary of His Majesty, the King. His Majesty turns 35 today and the entire nation not only rejoices his birthday but wishes him good health and fulfillment of his aspirations for the country.

This year, on behalf of the people, the Prime Minister made five pledges as offerings to His Majesty, the King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. In his traditional state of nation speech, the Prime Minister underlined the following five pledges:

-          A pledge to work hard by all civil servants and build a stronger and stable Bhutan.
-          A pledge to root out corruption and strengthen institutions that play as deterrent to corruptions like the national Anti Corruption Commission, the royal audit authority, the office of attorney general and judiciary. This was significant, given that the foreign minister flanking the prime minister was facing corruption charges.
-          A pledge for all the school children to read at least a book each month in pursuit of national aspiration of knowledge based society and also as a part of dedication to His Majesty, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 60th birth anniversary, dedicated as the national reading year.
-          A pledge for each teacher to adopt a child from disadvantaged families and support the child for a year and come out with a report by the end. Something like a social responsibilities for thousands of teachers.
-          A pledge to restore thousands of hollowed and derelict choetens in the country in a year. Despite the need to restore these choetens, it would be important to do it in a way that does not attract another spate of vandalism. I don’t know why, but I still have some reservations on whether this will be worth after all.

There are two more days of the five days holidays for civil servants and office goers.  For farmers, preparations are on to begin tilling land for maize plantations in lower altitudes. For them, after two important festivities, life quickly reverts back to normal chores.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 21, 2015

11.58 PM

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